Thomas Aird

To The Memory Of A City Pastor

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His soul was truth severe: The shafts of day
Strike through the vague delusions of the night;
So, arrowy keen was his assault of light,
The “Idols of the Den,” to pierce them, pierce and slay.
No Fatherhood is in the Pantheist's God,—
Eyeless, impersonal thing: From out the wild
Diffusion strange our living Father smiled,
As from the Pastor's lips our plea of Sonship glowed.
“Go! coward sneerer at thy parent's vow,
Who held thee up; at least be scornful bold:
Dark cite thy Pagan Club; drops deadly cold
From rue and nightshade take, wash, disbaptise thy brow!”
Yet oh how tolerant of the modest doubt,
Peace to the soul, peace to the struggling soul,
He loved to breathe! Clear slips of gladness stole
Down through the rents of gloom, and cast the phantoms out.
“Fear thou no more! God never made in whim
An organ but for use: our yearning hope
Of Heaven hereafter, like our hand, has scope
To grasp the thing which is; that Heaven is thus no dream.

“Shall He who made us with a wish and trust
And power to know our Maker more and more,
Be faithless to Himself who in our core
Still keeps the hope He put, and cheat us all with dust?
“How terrible, should God extinguish Man,
Were all our race to lift one gathered cry,—
‘Father, hast Thou deceived us!’ God Most High,
So challenged, were not God: Doubt not His Deathless Plan.
“'Tis Life, my friend! For this God's blood was paid.
Strange Word! Yet stranger that a soul like thee,
God-stamped, should die, than that Incarnate He
Should suit Himself to dwell with sons so nobly made.”
Come down, thou purple Pride! He storms thee down,
That Son of Thunder. More, through Him above,
Whose shield was patience, and whose spear was love,
His is a war to lift meek Virtue to her crown.
Years, grief and years, drink up the lustrous eye;
The sunny curls are thin, white, sapless hairs:
Peace! aged one, to thee Christ's servant bears
Pledge of the surer prime—life with thy Lord on high.
Down the blind alley, up the festering stair,
Wan creatures, ground by hunger from their den
(Hunger, lean mainspring of the world of men),
Took from him help and hope back to their nightly lair.
Daughters of Sin; remnants of men, their faces
Ploughed and cross-ploughed by Pain, gnarled, weather-stained
With grim old cruelties, and blood-engrained,—
Half rose to meet his eye down in their dying places.

All pests, all plagues he faced. The midnight cry
Of dwellings wrapt in webs of roaring flame
Roused him to help. Poor son of scaffold shame,
Out on the rueful verge, he taught thee how to die.
Children of Night, oh his immortal strife,
With tears and blood to wash you white of beauty,
Divinely white! For power to do his duty
More did he pray to God than for eternal life.
“Be fire, be love, in one! From Sinai Wrath
Bowed down and Mercy in the manger kissed:
The Tongues of Fire shall melt the Dragon's crest”—
Cheered he the Mission on—“Love, it is life from death.
“Walled round with bastions of obstruction strange,
Won is the North; such war the Gospel wages.
Sunk, simmering lies in the sultry sloth of ages
The absorbed and feeble South: it starts to the great change.
“The Grace that dawned in the prophetic East
Is day to the far West—our Heavenly day!
Our thanks be zeal to help it round away
To where (love thus to train) the primal light has ceased.
“Work, Man, with God. Down through the dark of time
Comes the long shudder of ancestral Pain:
That Curse prolific, work it out amain
By light and love: make Earth and Heaven one blessed clime.”
How bursts from heart to heart, great soul and true,
Thy passionate thought; bold, as the terrors loom,
To dash with sunny tumult all the gloom,
Yet high of solemn charge! Friend of mankind, adieu!

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Thomas Aird